Dennis Hoey

Sherlock Holmes: The House of Fear (1945) [DVD]

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I’ve already written about how much I love the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes series of 1940s B-movies, and I won’t go over old ground – you can read my original thoughts in this 2011 review of The Pearl of Death.

This week I dipped into the ‘definitive collection’ of the Rathbone/Bruce films to watch The House of Fear, the tenth of 14 films the pair made together. This one has something of an Agatha Christie “And Then There Were None” feel to it, as it focuses on a group called The Good Comrades who reside in the isolated Drearcliffe House on the coast of Scotland. One by one the group is being murdered in horrific fashion, each death preceded by the cryptic warning of an envelope containing a diminishing number of orange pips being delivered to the next unfortunate corpse-in-waiting. Is it just a simple case of the last man standing bumping off the rest in order to inherit the group’s money?

Holmes and Watson move in to Drearcliffe to solve the case, but the pool of suspects continues to diminish even as the quantity of red herrings seemingly implicating absolutely everyone continues to grow. The Good Comrades themselves are a delightfully sinister bunch of eccentrics (Paul Cavanagh, Aubrey Mather, Holmes Herbert and Harry Cording among them) while the dour housekeeper Mrs Monteith (Sally Shepherd) must also be under suspicion, along with a number of the predictably hostile locals in the nearby village. Read the rest of this entry »